Dallas hardcore band Lost in October keeps the pit going at a NoiseROT show at the Haltom Theater. Photo by Steve Steward.

For new bands, cobbling beats, chords, and lyrics into passable songs that merit playing in front of people is actually the easiest part, because after that, you have to figure out how to get shows, a process usually full of dead ends, exploitative business schemes, and frustratingly opaque agreements. But, eventually, in the way that practice makes a tricky guitar solo or a busy ride-cymbal pattern possible, booking shows becomes easier, and if you do it often enough, bands start coming to you for help. And when that happens, if you’re committed to a consistent, disciplined, professional business model, you might be able to build a brand that regularly matches bands with audiences ready to get rowdy in a circle pit.

That’s more or less the story with NoiseROT. Started in the wake of the 2020 lockdown, the local promotion company is the brainchild of three metal fans who met as teens in the late 2000s at North Texas shows, starting with the ones NoiseROT co-founder Daniel “DJ” Alvarez put on in his family’s backyard.

“I started playing in bands in eighth grade, like 2008,” he said, adding that he met a second fellow co-founder, Osiel “OC” Martinez, in high school and joined his metalcore band, but “between middle school and graduating, I would do house shows, because my mom always said, ‘I’d rather you be somewhere I can see you.’ … The deal was, my mom said I had to clean the backyard so it looks nice and neat. She said, ‘Women can use the restroom. Guys gotta go piss in the alley.’ ”

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Alvarez’s first shows were “one-offs,” but after a while, touring bands started hitting him up looking for places to play. He deflected as much as he could until he couldn’t. Booking shows “wasn’t really serious for me until after COVID. There weren’t shows going on, and [Martinez and I] had been living together for a hot minute, and we kind of decided to figure out how to do it ourselves.”

The absence of live music due to lockdown mandates was a void that Alvarez and Martinez were eager to fill. Alvarez said, “There was too much opportunity to not try, you know?”

After graduating high school, Alvarez worked with a larger, mostly hip-hop-oriented booking agency, Aeronotiqz, where friend Bernice Amber would help him work the door and do other day-of-show errands. She and Martinez knew each other from the North Texas punk and metal scenes.

“We all became friends and would hang out all the time,” Alvarez said, “and after COVID lockdowns were over, I got with [Amber and Martinez] and was like, ‘Y’all want to figure out how to book shows?’ ”

Alvarez’s time with Aeronotiqz taught him a lot about the music industry and event promotion, he said, but the hip-hop market’s pay-to-play business model didn’t sit well with his own approach to booking.

“The pay-to-play presale stuff happens in the metal market, too,” he said. “I don’t like it. Now, of course, there’s overhead we have to cover, but after that, we find a way to make sure every band is taken care of.”

NoiseROT’s division of labor sees Alvarez handling most of the business end of shows (“I shake hands, sign contracts, make deals, do a lot of the networking with the bands”), while Amber handles most of the social media and day-of-show tasks at NoiseROT events. Martinez is “kind of our idea guy,” Alvarez said, with Amber and Martinez seated nearby.

“What I wanted to do with NoiseROT was the entertainment aspect of it,” Martinez said.

He launched the podcast Chill Sounds & Beats to help promote one particular house show but has kept at it.

“That’s where I got hooked on what I could bring to NoiseROT,” Martinez recalled. “ ‘What can we do to help bands share and promote their shows?’ ”

(From left to right) Daniel “DJ” Alvarez, Bernice Amber, and Osiel “OC” Martinez are the musician-first promotion agency NoiseROT.
Photo by Steve Steward.

NoiseROT also tries to make playing a show as fun and easy as possible for the artists.

“We’re pretty transparent,” Alvarez said. “I’ll send a PDF that has links to every bit of information. … From the moment I book the show, I pretty much know how everything is going to run, so there’s no reason to second-guess it later. I’ll take pictures of the venues, so bands know where to park. We want to have everything easily available and up-front.”

“Even down to the Wi-Fi password,” Amber added.

While NoiseROT has booked shows all over North Texas, Alvarez and company prefer Tarrant County venues, in particular the Haltom Theater.

Found near the intersection of Belknap and U.S. 377, the Haltom isn’t your typical neighborhood pub-type of venue.

“It’s definitely a destination,” Alvarez said, “but a lot of hardcore and metal stuff has worked well here. … There’s just been a resurgence in metallic hardcore that all these kids have been really into. The overhead isn’t crazy, so it allows us to make better deals with the artists, which allows us to not charge crazy ticket amounts.”

And it’s also a spot where fans can get kind of wild.

“I think moshing culture [at the Haltom] is heavily encouraged,” Amber said. “We’ve [booked] at venues in the past where they don’t want that … but here in the Side Stage room, it’s crazy. … When you see that go nuts, it’s like a different experience. … In that room, you’ll see the craziest shit happen.”

Housed in what used to be a diner attached to the theater (the main space easily holds several hundred), the Haltom’s Side Stage room is small enough to seem intimate. I interviewed NoiseROT there ahead of a Memorial Day show, and when I came back later to take pics, I was impressed that the opening bands played to a pretty solid, enthusiastic crowd of about 40 people. Even though I saw someone do a fairly high-flying roundhouse kick during Dallas’ Lost in October’s set, everyone in the audience respected one another’s space. Amber thinks the physicality of NoiseROT’s shows is part of why fans keep coming back.

“I’ve been going to shows since I was 14,” she said. “It was something we’d look forward to all week. … I’d stand in the very front and see the Wonder Years in the days before people started crying about crowd surfing, and I’d get landed on, but I’d still have a fucking blast and wouldn’t leave even though this guy just fell on me.”

For her, sharing the thrill of a metal show with younger generations is her favorite part of NoiseROT. “I really like being able to open that door for younger kids, because for me, it was always something I looked forward to, and it’s about opening that door for the next generation, so they can look forward to shows, and venues, and meeting people, and having those conversations about [their experiences with] music.”

NoiseROT also helps artists promote their sounds. Partnering with Crooked2th Studios on the North Side has allowed Alvarez, Amber, and Martinez to help up-and-comers create a digital footprint, which is vital to landing gigs.

“I try to find artists that maybe don’t have a lot of content online who I saw play live and thought they were super-good,” Martinez said, “and they’ll go into [Crooked2th] and record four or five songs and do an interview, and then we upload it onto the NoiseROT YouTube channel and upload those songs onto a Spotify playlist, so those bands have something tangible to show people.”

Called the Rotted Roots Sessions, these videos highlight local artists like Dusty Calcote, Jacob Furr, and Cold Case. The channel also hosts episodes from Martinez’ Chill Sounds & Beats, in which he interviews newer artists like Erin Malone and Saint Eastwood as well as local businesses like gourmet hot sauce purveyor Freaky Ferments.

Alvarez always takes a view from 30,000 feet. “What I’ve always told myself is, ‘How do I get people who go to Billy Bob’s to see a show at Tomcats?’ ‘How do I get people from Rubber Gloves to come see a show at the Rail Club?’ How do I connect these worlds? Because there’s a big community with lots of little pockets within it. How do we tie it all together? That’s what the big dream is.”